Let’s start with a quiz: Quick! Name some dictators!

I’m willing to bet most of you responded with just a few of the same names: Assad, Putin, Castro, Kim Jong-un, Gaddafi, Maduro. This is not because they are the only dictators in the world (far from it), or that all of them even necessarily qualify for the title, but precisely because these are the figures most constantly labeled as such by our media.

“Dictator” is a very powerful moniker to give someone. There is a hard-to-define but very important distinction between a government with authoritarian tendencies or a poor human rights record, on the one hand, and a full-blown dictatorship. The very name implies that dictatorial governments should, nay, must be resisted and overthrown, while the same action is not appropriate or justifiable for the former.

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